Ireland: Workplace Fatalities Increased in 2005

Provisional figures published by Ireland's occupational safety and health agency show that 70 work-related deaths were reported in 2005, up from 49 in 2004.

The figures, issued by the Health and Safety Authority on Dec. 30, also indicate that the same industry sectors remain the most dangerous: construction (23 deaths) and agriculture (17 deaths).

The most common causes of workplace fatalities were:

  • Fall, collapse or breakage of material 16 fatalities;
  • Falls from height nine fatalities; and
  • Loss of control of other transport or handling equipment nine fatalities.

Five fatalities were animal-related.

The most common causes of non-fatal accidents reported to the authority in 2005 for all sectors were handling, lifting and carrying (31.2 percent) and slips, trips and falls (15.1 percent). These have been the two most common accident triggers every year since 2000.

Seventeen people died in the agricultural sector in 2005, compared to 13 people in the same sector in 2004. Of the 17 deaths in the agricultural sector, seven involved people over 65 years of age. There were two child fatalities in the sector in 2005.

Tom Beegan, CEO of the Health and Safety Authority, said the figures point to the need for the development of a national culture of workplace health and safety.

"While the general trend is a downward one, there is no acceptable level of workplace fatality," Beegan said. "Even a single death is one too many.''

He said the figures required targeted interventions by the authority in sectors with the greatest level of fatalities such as construction and farming as well as parts of the country where fatalities were high, such as Cork and Donegal.

"Last year was marked by the introduction of the new Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act," Beegan said. "Both employers and employees have significant responsibilities under the act and we can reduce the numbers of fatalities and serious accidents by making workplace safety a priority in 2006."

Workplace fatalities in 2005, broken down by economic sector, occurred in:

  • Agriculture, forestry, hunting 17
  • Fishing 2
  • Mining, quarrying 6
  • Manufacturing 7
  • Construction 23
  • Wholesale, retail, repair 7
  • Transport, storage, communication 4
  • Real estate, renting, business 1
  • Public administration, defense 2
  • Community, social, personal services 1
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